The Etiology of Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition in Australian School Students: A Behavior-Genetic Study

Coventry, W, Anton-Méndez, I, Ellis, E M, Levisen, C, Byrne, B, Van Daal, Victor H P and Ellis, N C (2012) The Etiology of Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition in Australian School Students: A Behavior-Genetic Study. Language Learning, 62 (3). pp. 880-901. ISSN 0023-8333 DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00718.x

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Abstract

We present one of the first behavior-genetic studies of individual differences in school students’ levels of achievement in instructed second language acquisition (ISLA). We assessed these language abilities in Australian twin pairs (maximum N pairs = 251) by means of teacher ratings, class rankings, and self-ratings of proficiency, and used the classic twin design to estimate the relative influences of genes, shared (family/school) environment, and unique environment. Achievement in ISLA was more influenced by additive genetic effects (72%, 68%, and 38% for teacher ratings, class rankings, and twin self-ratings, respectively) than by shared environment effects, which were generally not substantial (20%, 07%, and 13%). Genetic effects distinct to speaking and listening, on the one hand, and reading and writing, on the other, were evident for the twin self-ratings. We discuss the limitations and implications of these findings and point to research questions that could profitably be addressed in future studies.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Psychology
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 09:47
URI: http://repository.edgehill.ac.uk/id/eprint/5614

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